Let me tell you a secret ...


What your veterinary colleagues were glad to tell Reader's Digest about the profession's strengths, pet peeves, and failings.

Some veterinarians don't use painkillers for painful procedures. (An unfortunate truth.)

Veterinarians don't license their animals. (Well, at least a few in Florida don't, according to the anecdote.)

You're not as good a veterinarian if you studied overseas. (Veterinary college deans in the Caribbean are gnashing their teeth at this one.)

Brendan Howard

Veterinarians encourage more euthanasias at the end of the day because they're tired and don't want to perform full diagnostic workups. (A particularly unpleasant anecdote from one practitioner.)

Corporate-owned clinics charge more because their veterinarians get bonuses. (Really? Because many other veterinary hospitals pay bonuses for production, too.)

Veterinarians are overcharging clients for drugs. (Let's not get into the pharmacy debate here.)

These are a few tidbits from "50 Secrets Your Vet Won't Tell You" in the May 2012 issue of Reader's Digest. The magazine interviewed 18 veterinarians and team members—some anonymous—to spill the beans. We know why: Pet owners are always curious about what veterinarians think, and as transparent as your clinic may be, you still don't tell clients everything. These doctors were happy to oblige Reader's Digest.

Not all the supposed skeletons in the closet were bad. The interviewees assured readers that they're not in it for the money and that they do things for free "just because they want to help the pet." And they complained about clients who want diagnoses without paying for diagnostics, who want clean pet teeth without brushing, and who want healthy pets but won't exercise them or cut back on the treats.

But when I see veterinary practitioners in the public eye, in each case I wonder whether they're helping or hindering the profession. Some pet-owning readers might wind up better-informed because of the article, but I'm sure some of you will dispute the "secret" facts I opened with. (Dispute and discuss the article at dvm360.com/readersdigest.) In general, veterinarians are portrayed positively here, but the interviewees can't resist throwing some darts at colleagues who don't meet their standards.

Ultimately, articles like these—for good or for ill—show the public that even the honorable, brilliant, caring, highly trained veterinary profession is not without its bad eggs, its diverse opinions, its inward-turning gossip, and its public-facing complaints. It's certainly a reminder that veterinarians can always be helping to change opinions and educate about who they are and what they do.

NOTE: Kristi Reimer, who started with us in 2001 and has served as editor of Veterinary Economics for four years, is now editor of our sister publication DVM Newsmagazine (just down the hall from my office). I've loved this magazine since I started work on it eight years ago. With your help, I'll do my best to fill her shoes.

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